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Thousands of 'Invasion Day' protesters will risk big fines to oppose Australia Day

Thousands of protesters will defy coronavirus restrictions and take to the streets for 'Invasion Day' marches while the rest of the country celebrates Australia Day. 

Rallies and marches are planned to coincide with official events throughout the day on Tuesday in the CBDs of all major cities.

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British settlers into Sydney on January 26, 1788, which to Aboriginal people marks the day their country was invaded.

Campaigners want the date of Australia Day changed and for January 26 to instead honour Aboriginals who died during conflicts with white settlers, and others who more recently died in police custody.

Last year saw tens of thousands in each city hold huge rallies and marches, shutting down CBD streets, but this year many will be illegal or have to be far smaller.

Pictured: Protestors march down Pitt Street during an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on January 26 2020 - before coronavirus restrictions 

Pictured: a group of students handing out Invasion Day flyers at Newtown train station in Sydney's inner-west on Monday

Sydney organisers have set up a Google doc with a seven-page Covid safety plan for the 31-minute march to Prince Alfred Park, with information on hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing

Each event pledged to maintain Covid safety with participants being asked to register their details with organisers in case there is an outbreak, wear masks, and stay at home if they feel unwell.

Police in Victoria will assist event organisers to maintain coronavirus public health orders to ensure groups of no more than 100 people are spaced at least 10m apart.

Organisers, Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, are demanding Victoria abolishes Australia Day and its continued celebration.

'There is nothing to celebrate on Australia Day,' WAR said in a statement on Monday.

'Aboriginal communities continue to be oppressed, policed, discriminated against and disenfranchised.

'Australian nationalism - a project reinforced by the Howard years yet continued by governments since - is nothing more than white supremacy, ignorance and racism.'

Victorian minister Melissa Horne said she understood January 26 was a difficult day for First Nations people and implored protesters to safely demonstrate.

'There will be increased police presence out there on the streets, but don't blow the freedoms that we've got right here and now,' she told reporters on Monday.

The health department echoed Ms Horne's advice, telling Victorians to remain 'sensible' on Australia Day and not let their guard down.

Victoria Police said it was aware of several planned demonstrations in the CBD and issued a stern warning to would-be troublemakers.

'Anyone looking to attend an event to cause trouble can expect a firm response from police; you will be arrested and held to account if you commit a crime,' it said. 

A protestor holds a placard during an Invasion Day rally in Sydney on January 26 in 2020. Last year's events attracted tens of thousands of people

Protesters are seen during the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne, Sunday, January 26. City of Melbourne has supported the protests in 2021

The Sydney protest, where strict gathering limits are still in place, has no official support and participants risk hefty fines of up to $1,000

However, the Sydney protest, where strict gathering limits are still in place, has no official support and participants risk hefty fines of up to $1,000.

Almost 7,000 people have indicated they plan on attending the event at the Domain at 9am, despite strict limits of 500 people in an outdoor space. 

NSW Police told Daily Mail Australia the protest has not been registered properly with officials and is not authorised.

'At the current time, Public Health Orders state that the number of people attending an outdoor protest cannot exceed one person per two square metres of publicly accessible space to a maximum of 500 people,' it said.

Police added that officers recognise the rights of individuals and groups to protest, but maintained its first priority is 'the safety of the community'. 

Police Minister David Elliott told 2GB that police would be enforcing the public health orders in Sydney.

'We've issued a number of fines [for previous protests] and people have been before courts and people tomorrow will be exposed to fines because they'll be in breach of public health orders,' he told the radio station on Monday. 

'I can't believe any organisation, let alone one that pretends to advocate for Indigenous rights, would say 'let's put aside the risk of Covid-19, let's breach public health orders, let's get together despite the pleas of the community asking them not to get together'.' 

Protestors are seen during the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane, Sunday, January 26. One man  wears an Aboriginal flag as a face mask

Thousands of people joined rallies across Australia in support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are calling for an end to the celebration of Australia Day on January 26 in Brisbane in 2020

Nevertheless, organisers have set up a Google doc with a seven-page Covid safety plan for the 31-minute march to Prince Alfred Park, with information on hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Designated Covid marshals will dispense hand sanitiser to those in need throughout the event.

About 6,000 Victorians indicated they would attend the protest on the steps of Melbourne's Parliament House at 10.30am on Tuesday, with aid of state authorities. 

The City of Melbourne will be providing hand sanitiser, portable bathrooms, and help with contact tracing to ensure the event is Covid-safe.

No more than 100 people are allowed to gather at any one time in the state, and Covid marshals will help ensure groups do not exceed the limit.

About 6,000 Victorians indicated they would attend the protest on the steps of Melbourne's Parliament House at 10.30am on Tuesday, with aid of state authorities

A spokesman for Victoria Police said the force has been 'extensively planning for the Australia Day public holiday'. Pictured: Protests in Melbourne in 2020

They will also make sure all all participants are wearing face masks and that groups remain at least 10m apart.

A spokesman for Victoria Police said the force has been 'extensively planning for the Australia Day public holiday'.

'There will be a strong police presence at any planned rallies in order to maintain public safety and ensure no breaches of the peace or crimes occur,' he said.

Despite council support, premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians not to take part in the event.

'We've built something precious and unique ... Victorians have through their sacrifice and their commitment and their compassion for each other,' he told reporters on Thursday.

'We have to safeguard that. And the best way to do that is to follow the rules and to be absolutely vigilant. That's the most important thing.' 

Despite council support, premier Daniel Andrews urged Victorians not to take part in the event. Pictured: A protester in Sydney

Thousands of protesters from Brisbane are expected to march from Queens Gardens CBD to Musgrave Park on Tuesday, despite coronavirus limits of 100 people in public spaces. Pictured: Brisbane protests last year

Thousands of protesters from Brisbane are expected to march from Queens Gardens CBD to Musgrave Park on Tuesday, despite coronavirus limits of 100 people in public spaces.

Organisers have created a registration QR code and requested participants bring face masks and hand sanitiser.

There are limits of 20 people per group in the city, but with about 5,900 people registering their interest, participants could risk getting fined. 

Adelaide has dubbed its event 'Survival Day', which will kick off from Victoria Square at 11.30am. 

Organisers asked people to bring face masks and hand sanitiser, but did not post a safety plan.  

South Australia has a gathering limit of 50 people in an outdoor space, but 28,000 have said they are interested in attending the event. 

Protesters in Perth and Darwin are the only cities that will be able to rally without worrying about gathering limits. Pictured: Protesters in Brisbane in 2020

Protesters in Perth and Darwin are the only cities that will be able to rally without worrying about gathering limits.

About 3,000 people are expected to attend the event at Forrest Place in Western Australia. while about 530 will march around the Darwin CBD.

As Australia's smallest state, Tasmania has capped the number of people allowed in an outdoor gathering at 1,000 people - the largest limit in the nation.

Around 2,000 people have attended Australia Day protests in Hobart in previous years.

The event in Canberra was cancelled on Friday, with organisers citing 'circumstances beyond our control' and 'the affects of Covid'. The ACT does not ave any active cases.  

The national broadcaster used both terms interchangeably to discuss events and celebrations across Australia. 

A protestor wearing a anti James Cook T-shirt (right) is seen during the Invasion Day rally in Brisbane, Sunday, January 26 in 2020

The article was titled 'Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin' and described the public holiday as 'one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar'. 

Australia Day is a day of celebration for many, as the nation enjoys a public holiday to come together and enjoy everything a lifestyle Down Under brings.

But for First Nations people, it marks 'a day of sorrow for the colonisation of an ancient culture,' according to the ABC article.

'For some First Nations people, it is a day to mourn the past and galvanise the community to address ongoing systemic racial injustice. For others, it's a chance to spend time with family and friends at the beach or around barbecues.'

The ABC defended the decision to use the terms interchangeably as it would be 'inappropriate' to demand its' staff to refer to one or the other, but backed down in the face of a huge backlash.

AUSTRALIA DAY PROTESTS 2021 

Sydney: The rally will start at 9am from the Domain and will go until about 1pm. NSW Police say the event is not authorised and participants could be fined for breaching Covid rules. About 7,000 people have said they will attend.

Melbourne: The 'Invasion Day' march will leave from Parliament House at 10.30am. Participants must bring face masks and hand sanitiser. The local council will help ensure Covid restrictions are adhered to. About 6,100 people sauid they would attend.

Brisbane: Protesters will march from Queens Garden to Musgrave Park from 11am. There are limits of 20 people per group in the city. The event page has attracted the interest of 5,900 people.

Adelaide: The 'Survival Day' march will leave Victoria Square at 11.30am. The group will head to Parliament House, before turning around and heading back. Protesters have been asked to bring face masks and hand sanitiser.

South Australia has a gathering limit of 50 people in an outdoor space, but 28,000 have said they are interested in attending the event.

Perth: The march has attracted 3,000 people and will begin at 4pm at Forrest Place. Organisers posted a call for volunteer marshals on January 13 to help manage crowds. There is no limit on the number of people allowed outside in a group, as long as there is 2sq/m of space between each person.

Darwin: The march in Darwin will start at 11.30am and protesters will rally through Civic Square. About 530 people will attend. Gatherings of more than 100 people are allowed, but organisers must complete a Covid checklist first.

Hobart: The rally will begin at 11.45am on the Parliament House Lawns. Up to 1,000 people are allowed to gather in a public space.

Canberra: The event in Canberra was cancelled. Organisers cited 'circumstances beyond our control' and 'the affects of Covid'.   

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